Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 4, 2015

Touching Stones and Visual Reminders – Erika Wassall

erikaphoto-45Erika Wassall, the Jersey Farm Scribe here with

Touching Stones and Visual Reminders

I don’t know about you guys, but sometimes life happens to me and I sort of forget that I’m a writer. When I’m doing freelance work I have deadlines and deliverables, but when there is no current project along those lines, and I’m working more on my own stuff, sometimes I find that a whole week can go by and I realize… wow, I barely wrote ANYTHING.

I’ve found that there are two things that help me stay in touch with myself as a writer and keep it a constant part of my life: touching stones and visual reminders.

Touching Stones

I have to have something that FORCES me to write. For me, deadlines are a wonderful.

I’m lucky. Writing this post every other week is an amazingly powerful touching stone for me.  It focuses me, brings me back to the craft.  And I’m incredibly grateful to Kathy for the opportunity and to all of you for actually reading my posts!  J  It’s a wonderful gift to be able to connect with you all twice a month.

On my off weeks over here, I write posts for another blog, I love to cook and I often post on some yummy dish I’ve made recently or even a craft that I’ve tried.

There are LOTS of websites that are looking for people to contribute to their content. Think of a few topics that you love and I promise you, there are websites out there where people write about it!!  Many of those sites need more articles, more content.  Some of them will advertise that they’re looking for writers.  But even the ones that don’t, it can’t hurt to reach out and just ASK!

That’s how I got this gig guys! The first time I met Kathy was at an SCBWI social dinner.  She happened to mention that a lot of people who run websites are looking for people to supply articles to them and that it can be mutually beneficial because running a website is a LOT of work.  I emailed her the next week, we tried it out, and that was over a year ago now.  (sort of unbelievable, but true!)

Believe it or not, searching Craigslist isn’t a half bad way to find sites that are actually advertising that they want content writers. I try to post opportunities that I see on my Twitter feed @NJFarmScribe, and another good one to follow for writing opportunities is @busyguru, Bryan Scott.

Visual Reminders

This was another wonderful tip I’ve picked up from The Plot Whisperer (by Martha Alderson).  It seems so simple, and almost silly, but it really works for me.

Hang stuff up. LOTS of stuff.

Make a physical plot line, not just in your head, but on paper, preferably at least three papers horizontally taped together. Hang it up in your office or wherever you often write (or even just somewhere you often glance).

Character descriptions?   Write them out and hang them up.

And then it gets even more interesting….

You have scenes in your head, right? Maybe it’s a feeling or a specific setting.  Find pictures that remind you of that emotion, or the essence of the scene you’re trying to set.  Print them out (or rip them right out of the magazine) and hang them up.

Maybe it’s a picture that evokes the same emotion you want to create in your story.

Maybe it’s a house that’s just like the one your main character grew up in.

Maybe it’s similar devastation to the driving force behind your hero’s big change.

Having these pictures actually hanging around reminds us visually of what we’re working toward, what we’re creating. Reminders that don’t even require us to turn on a computer, or open up a notebook.

Writing is a subtle art in a way. If I was another type of artist, say one who painted, I’d have paints, brushes, canvas… perhaps a smock tossed haphazardly over a chair.  There would be physical objects around the house that were visual reminders of my paintings.  As writers, if you don’t open up a particular word document, there might not be much to see.  At least, not until we put them there!

For me, having touching stones and visual reminders pull me back in. It helps my writing be more interwoven with my everyday life.  It keeps me more aligned with my goals, and more in touch with my story and my characters.

Life happens, no question about it. But keeping a finger on the pulse of our writing is one of the things that can help keep us balanced.

And as we know… our manuscripts are worth it!


Erika Wassall is a writer, a farmer and a liver of life. She is a member of SCBWI and a proud Mad Scientist, bringing science experiments right into children’s classrooms, and hearts. She has a small farm in New Jersey with sheep, chickens, pigs and vegetables. Check out her new website at where as a first generation farmer, she often takes the long way, learning the tricks of the trade on The Farm. On her website is also The Shop page with tips and a free Q/A from her husband’s mechanic shop, and The Writer page where she shares stories, experiences and characters from the heart. Follow her on Twitter at @NJFarmScribe. She’d love to hear from you!

Thank you Erika for another great post.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Very good info.! I had an opportunity to speak with the indie filmmaker Ed Burns recently about his new show on TNT: Public Morals. I was told I’d get to ask 3 ?’s, but when the time came it had been reduced to 1. My ?: What are your writing habits, etc. Can you elaborate? I asked for details. He gave them, but the takeaway advice for me was not to worry about getting it write or perfect, but to just write and keep moving forward. Now I had known this, but it was a great reminder from an inspirational and independent writer! Hemingway’s target was 500 words per day. If a day passes and I didn’t get to it, I shoot for 750 the next 2 days or I’ll make some notes or do a little revision. I think reading is probably the most important thing to do.

    Nice post!

    Ed Burns’ new show has finished its first season, but I believe it can still be seen on TNT Demand or iTunes and for free. I loved it. Great story lines, and he really did a good job building the tension!


  2. Great advice to share Erika. As a blogger, I welcome ideas for my own site. Any takers?


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